May 11, 2011 – An article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz by Akiva Elder today reveals that Israel revoked residency rights of 140,000 Palestinians who traveled abroad between 1967 and 1994 without telling the Palestinians what they were doing. When Palestinians left, they were ordered to leave their residency cards at the border, then Israel decided that if they didn’t return within a certain amount of time they would cancel their residency rights altogether.
The Central Bureau of Statistics in Israel says the West Bank’s Palestinian population amounted to 1.05 million in 1994, which means the population would have been greater by about 14 percent if it weren’t for the procedure.
Today, a similar procedure is still in place for residents of East Jerusalem who hold Israeli ID cards; they lose their right to return if they have been abroad for seven years. (See previous post on “The Bookseller of Jerusalem.“)
According to another article by Akiva Elder, Palestinian Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told Haaretz:
This policy should not only be seen as a war crime as it is under international law; it also has a humanitarian dimension: we are talking about people who left Palestine to study or work temporarily but who could not return to resume their lives in their country with their families. Israel’s actions violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that ‘everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.’